Accused killer's confession

UPDATE: 4:35 p.m.

The police recording of the moment Jacob Forman was arrested was played in Kelowna court Tuesday afternoon.

Forman was arrested on the evening of Dec. 19, 2017 after the bodies of his wife and two young daughters were found inside the garage of the family’s home.

As part of a voir dire to determine the admissibility of several pieces of key evidence in the judge-alone trial, including a confession he allegedly made to police eight days after his arrest, the recording of Forman’s statement to police just before his arrest was played in court.

As Cpl. Todd Bowden searched the exterior garage of the home, Const. Marshall Slarks recorded a statement from Forman about his then-missing wife, Clara Forman.

“Clara and I have been having some issues in our marriage. She mentioned a few days ago that she was going to leave me and I didn't really believe her. Today I got a call from her work saying she didn't go in. I came home around 2:00 and she wasn't here,” Forman told Slarks, adding that he hadn't seen Clara or the kids since the night before. “Some of her stuff was missing, the girls' stuff.”

Five minutes into the statement, at 7:01 p.m., Cpl. Bowden returns from the garage and interrupts the interview.

“Sir, you're under arrest for murder,” Cpl. Bowden says.

A few minutes after the arrest, an officer can be heard asking Forman: “Where are the children?”

“I don't know,” Forman replies. “Did you find Clara? What did you find? Please tell me.”

A few moments later, another officer advises the arresting officer that Forman needs to be arrested on three counts of murder, rather than just one. Presumably, the bodies of the two children had been found.

The voir dires are expected to continue through the end of September. The main trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 4.

ORIGINAL: 2:10 p.m.

“I am responsible, but I’m not guilty of what the crown is saying.”

Jacob Forman, the man accused of killing his wife and two young daughters in their Kelowna home in December of 2017, repeated that phrase three times when his three separate murder charges were read to him in court Tuesday.

Forman was arrested on Dec. 19, 2017 after the bodies of his wife and two daughters, aged seven and nine, were found inside the family’s Rutland home on Bolotzky Court. He’s remained in custody since.

Forman has been charged with the second degree murder of his wife Clara Forman and the first degree murder of his two daughters. Choking back tears, Forman reiterated he was “responsible” for the the deaths of his family, but officially pleaded not guilty during his arraignment proceedings Tuesday morning. 

On Tuesday, the Crown also consented to Forman's request for a a judge-only trial, forgoing using a jury.

Following his arraignment, the first of several voir dires, a trial within a trial, began to determine the admissibility of several key pieces of the Crown's evidence, including a confession Forman gave to police while in custody at Okanagan Correctional Centre on Dec. 27.

After three separate interrogations at the Kelowna RCMP detachment between Dec. 19 and 21, Crown prosecutor Murray Kaay says Forman called police from OCC on Dec. 27 and confessed to the killings. Police then met Forman at the jail later that day and recorded an in-person confession.

Forman is contesting the “voluntariness” of the statements he gave to police. Voluntariness relates to a person making a statement by their own free will, rather than under coercion or duress.

The start of the voir dire began with testimony from Const. Marshall Slarks, one of the two RCMP officers who were first to check on the well-being of Clara Forman at the Bolotzky Court residence on the evening of Dec. 19. A co-worker of Clara's had told police she had hadn't shown up for work that day.

Slarks said Jacob Forman answered the door at the home and told Slarks and his partner that Clara had left him that day and took their kids, but when Slarks repeatedly asked to come inside, Jacob Forman declined.

Two other officers arrived on scene, and after getting direction from his supervisor, Slarks went back to the door about an hour after their first knock and told Forman they had the authority to enter the home. Forman did not object.

Slarks searched the home, but the only thing of note he found inside was a small piece of carpet that appeared to have been cut out from the floor in the master bedroom.

He then began taking a statement from Forman as Cpl. Todd Bowden searched an exterior garage. Shortly after, Cpl. Bowden returned from the garage and told Forman he was under arrest for murder.

The voir dire, expected to run through the end of the month, will also cover the admissibility of several letters Forman sent to friends while in custody, as well as a phone call he made to his brother while in custody. The Crown says the letters and phone call contained “inculpatory statements.”

Once the admissibility of evidence issues are dealt with, the main trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 4.

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